Final episode of Mr Bates vs The Post Office watched by more than 10 million

More than 10 million people have watched the final episode of Mr Bates vs The Post Office, making it one of the highest-rated TV dramas of the decade, figures show.

It has also become ITV’s best-performing drama since Broadchurch in 2017.

The four-part series, which depicts the real-life campaign by a subpostmaster and his colleagues to clear their name of fraud, was broadcast by ITV over four nights at the start of the year.

An average of 10.3 million people have watched the concluding episode, shown on January 4, according to official ratings published by the audience research organisation Barb.

POLITICS Horizon TVRatings
(PA Graphics)

They are consolidated ratings, meaning they include people who recorded and watched the programme up to seven days later – the industry standard for measuring TV audiences.

They also include people who watched on tablets, PCs and smartphones, along with viewers who saw the episode on ITVX before it was transmitted on television.

It means Mr Bates vs The Post Office is the fifth most-watched TV drama of the decade so far.

The top three spots are all filled by BBC One police thrillers.

Line Of Duty is in first place, with an average audience of 15.8 million for the final episode of the most recent series in May 2021.

Happy Valley is second, with 11.1 million for its final episode in February 2023, while Vigil is third, with 10.8 million for the final episode of the first series in September 2021.

In fourth place is another dramatisation of real events, The Salisbury Poisonings, with the first episode on BBC One in June 2020 being seen by 10.4 million.

All four episodes of Mr Bates vs The Post Office had average TV audiences of at least nine million.

The ratings for the final episode, 10.32 million, are the highest for an ITV drama since the last episode of Broadchurch – another police thriller – which was seen by 11.6 million in April 2017.

The impact of Mr Bates vs The Post Office has led Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to announce that all of those wrongly prosecuted in England and Wales as part of the scandal could have their names cleared by the end of the year under fast-tracked legislation.